Indian art is flavour of Paris spring-summer

New Delhi: From the scroll painters of West Bengal, to docu-movies on celebrated contemporary art masters like M.F. Husain and S.H. Raza to sculptures by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor, the colours of Indian art have been the flavour of the 2011 spring in France, taking to a new high the cultural exchange between the two countries.

The French capital has been celebrating "Indian Spring in France" with a slew of festivals of pioneering and cutting-edge contemporary art, traditional visual art and performing arts since March.

According to French ambassador Jerome Bonnafont, "the India big bang in Paris will last through summer till autumn".

A project, "Living Legends of Indian Contemporary Art", is the high point of the showcase.

It comprises four docu-movies on artists like the late M.F. Husain, Ram Kumar, Akbar Padamsee and S.H. Raza - directed by Laurent Bregeat and produced by the Lalit Kala Akademi.

Brageat traces the lives of the artists, their childhoods, tribulations and feats through numerous interviews, journeys to places associated with them, footages of the artists at work, unpublished documents and their sociological contexts to capture the evolving artistic landscape of the post-independence India.

"The Indian Spring is an incredible coincidence of initiatives undertaken by several institutions. The festival is showing off Indian creativity which is both deeply rooted in tradition and modernity. The Indian art on display is kind of cross-cultural pollination," Bonnafont told IANS.

Sculptors and installations by the Anish Kapoor featured in the fourth edition of "Monumenta" at the Grand Palais, a prestigious venue in Paris May 11-June 23.

"The cultural showcase in France represents a new emerging India. It is showcasing contemporary artists from India and of Indian origin living outside the country working in different mediums. We are trying to take the maximum number of artists of Indian origin to the world stage," union Culture Minister Selja told IANS.

"In January, we hosted a large exhibition of Anish Kapoor, a top Indian origin artist, in the capital and Mumbai. Anish Kapoor recently exhibited in Paris too. I think in terms of the art being shown, the 2011 showcase is one of the biggest," Selja said.

An ongoing exhibition, "Indian Highway IV" from Feb 24 to July 31 at the Musee d`art Contemporain de Lyon, is hosting site specific installations by Studio Mumbai Architects, the Desire Machine Collective, Sheela Gowda, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, N.S Harsha, Abhishek Hazra, Shanay Jhaveri, Jitish Kallat, Bharti Kher, among others.

The exhibition had earlier been to London and Oslo.

The arthouse, Galerie Frederic Moisan, hosted scroll painters from Bengal in an exhibition, "Patachitras of Bengal - Painted Scrolls of Itinerant Storytellers" from March 10 to April 16.

The ArtParis Fair 2011 from March 31 to April 3, presented showcase of tribal and contemporary art by artists Subodh Gupta, Kher Barti, Ravinder Reddy, Anju Dodiya, Atul Dodiya, Mithu Sen, Thukral & Tagra, Anita Dube, Pushpamala N. and Bari Kumar.

The 18th and 19th century royal court of Lucknow transplanted itself at the Guimet Museum with a retrospective of 200 works documenting the period.

"The response to the exhibitions in France have been mixed. In the Venice Biennale 2011, India made an understated and innovative statement. The country needs an independent experts` panel to project Indian art abroad. It is not possible for ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) or the Lalit Kala Akademi to do it," said Ashok Vajpeyi, chairperson of the Akademi.

Senior artist Ram Kumar agreed. "There is so much experimentation happening in new Indian art. It needs proper projection," he said.


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